Ins and outs

Getting there and around

The gateway to the coast of Kenya is Mombasa, although some visitors fly directly to Malindi or Lamu and there are daily scheduled services between these and Nairobi. The coastal highway runs north of Mombasa all the way to Kenya's northern frontier. Driving your own car or hired car as far as Malindi is very easy, and there are regular buses and
matatus
. Many hotels and resorts in this area have Mombasa shuttles or can arrange vehicle transfers. Private taxis from Mombasa will also take you to the north coast beaches for an agreed fare. Services are less regular north of Malindi, although there are daily buses to Lamu. To the south of Mombasa, the Likoni car ferry links the city with the coastal road that runs to the border with Tanzania. Once off the ferry there are regular
matatus
to Ukunda, the village at the turn-off for the beach road to the resorts along Diani Beach, where you can swap
matatus
or take a taxi. Again many of the southern resorts arrange shuttle services between Mombasa and the beach. Larger buses run daily between Mombasa, Moshi and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, crossing the border at the extreme south of the coast road at Lunga Lunga. Another slower option for reaching the coast is to take the overnight train from Nairobi to Mombasa that runs three times a week. Many people book week-long package holidays to the resorts, but independent travellers may want to consider hiring a car to explore the coast as the roads from the southern tip of Diani Beach to Malindi are good and most of the resorts accept walk-in guests (often for discounted rates) if they have room, although this would be inadvisable in high season.

Best time to visit

The climate on the coast is markedly different to that in Nairobi and the Kenyan Highlands, and if driving down the main Nairobi-Mombasa road, you will feel the rise in temperature and humidity as you get nearer to the coast. The average temperature is 28-30°C, and days are long and sunny just about all year round. Despite this, there is a down season on the coast during the rainy season from April to June, when it is often overcast and muggy, and many of the resorts and hotels offer discounts and some even close altogether out of season. If you can put up with a few afternoon showers, this is not a bad time to visit, and you are likely to have the beach to yourself, but on the downside, many other facilities such as restaurants and watersports centres also close. By contrast, during high season, especially around Christmas and New Year, the beaches are very busy with European package-holiday makers and room rates are at their premium.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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